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Korean red chili pepper stew (gochujang jjigae)

A Korean-American friend of mine told me a while back that I must have been Korean in my previous life. I just love Korean food, even dishes that she thought would be too spicy for many people. I used to devour her homecooked lunch. LOL!

I do love Korean food but most of the dishes are laden with sodium. I learned that because of long and very cold winters in Korea, Koreans pickle vegetables for preservation and in order for vegetables to be available during the winter season.

I am so thrilled that I have been finding Korean food blogs featuring Korean dishes that are very quick and easy to make. Lucky for me, being in the Bay Area, the spices that are essential in cooking Korean food are very accessible. I am just a short drive away from a Korean market.

I decided that I want to try to make more Korean dishes so I loaded up on kimchi, gochujang (Korean red chili pepper paste), gochugaru (Korean chili powder) and doenjang (Korean soy bean paste). And every time I go to the Korean market, I cannot resist getting food from the hot food section such as Korean sushi and different kinds of kimchi.

Since it is zucchini season, I decided to make a vegan zucchini version of the Korean Gochujang Stew (Gochujang Jjigae). This stew can be made with meat or clams but I opted out on the meat and chose the easiest and quickest yet so delicious way to make it. I made two different versions: one with zucchini and potato and one with sweet potatoes and tofu.

The most important ingredient in making this stew is gochujang which is a spicy red chili paste. Here is an article on Bon Appetit about gochujang. It can also be ordered on Amazon. (This is not a sponsored post.)

I brought some of the zucchini and potato stew to my coworkers who were initially shocked by how spicy it was. LOL! I even used mild gochugang. However, for the ones who could tolerate the heat, they loved it. They keep on asking me to make some more. Even Mr Sweetie really liked this stew despite not really into spicy food.

Quick tip: The rice will cut through the spiciness so eat it with hot rice. Have lots of rice ready because you might not be able to stop eating this stew!

This recipe is for the one with zucchini and potatoes, and has been adapted from Korean Bapsang.

Korean Red Chili Pepper Stew with Zucchini and Potatoes (gochujang jjigae)

Ingredients

  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium potato (2 small)
  • 1 or 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2  TBPS gochujang (Korean red chili pepper paste)
  • 2 cups water or water used to rinse rice ) or vegetable broth

Instructions

  1. Cut the zucchini and potatoes into about 1/2-inch thick bite size pieces. Roughly chop the scallion. Thinly slice the peppers.
  2. Add 2 cups of water (or rice water, if using) to a pot along with the red chili pepper paste (gochujang). Stir well to dissolve. Bring it to a boil.
  3. Drop the potatoes in and bring it to a boil again. Continue to boil for a minute or two. Then add the zucchini, garlic and scallions.
  4. Cook until the potatoes and zucchini are tender. Eat by itself or best eaten with a side bowl of rice.

MY NOTES

  • If you want to make sweet potato and tofu version, substitute regular potatoes with sweet potatoes. Add tofu in place of zucchini. Add mushrooms, if desired. If you want to make it spicier, add chili peppers.

Did you make KOREAN RED CHILI PEPPER STEW? Please let me know by leaving a comment on the blog or on Instagram @msfoodloversfcooks. Enjoy!

Easy garlic noodles (vegetarian version)

First of all, this is not a sponsored post. In fact, this recipe does not even contain Sriracha in it. LOL! I just could not resist getting the Sriracha mug set last Christmas. It is just the cutest gift set for Sriracha lovers which included an oversized mug, chopsticks, chopsticks holder and a small bottle of this Asian hot sauce.

If you have had a chance to dine at Crustacean or Thanh Long in San Francisco, then you probably understand Bay Area residents’ obsession with garlic noodles. (Thanh Long is Crustacean’s sister restaurant.) Not just garlic noodles but THE GARLIC NOODLES served at Crustacean or Thanh Long. Many people from the Bay Area tried (still trying) to duplicate this signature side dish from these San Francisco institutions which are known for roasted Dungeness crabs paired with a plate of buttery, garlicky garlic noodles.

I tried recipes in the past given to me by friends who swore by “It is exactly like the garlic noodles from Crustaceans!” NOT! Not even close. Now, I would not say that the garlic noodles on this post is like Crustacean’s. Honestly, it has been years since I dined at this San Francisco restaurant so I sort of have forgotten what their signature side dish would taste like. However, this Quick & Easy Garlic Noodles that I have adapted from Budget Byte’s recipe is very good. I have made this dish twice, and both times, it was hard to stop eating. It is so comforting and addicting!

I am posting a vegetarian version of this dish (and that can even be made vegan) because I am planning to post a non-vegetarian version in the future (also very, very delicious) that contains fish sauce. This dish is also really so easy to make that you probably already have the ingredients in your pantry. Let us start cooking!

Easy Vegetarian (Vegan) Garlic Noodles

  • 1 lb (16 oz) angel hair pasta or spaghetti noodles
  • 8 cloves garlic to 1 head garlic (8 cloves garlic is the minimum)
  • 3 bunches green onions (sliced and save some for toppings)
  • 4 TBSP vegan butter (for non vegan version, use regular butter)
  • 3-4 tsp soy sauce
  • 1-2 TBSP brown sugar (see my note)
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2-3 TBSP vegetarian oyster sauce (use regular oyster sauce for non-vegetarian or vegan version)
  • Parmesan cheese (for non-vegan version) Totally optional

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a small bowl, combine oyster sauce, brown sugar, soy sauce and sesame oil.
  2. Cook the noodles according to the package directions until al dente. Do not overcook. Drain noodles then set aside.
  3. While the waiting for the pasta to finish cooking, mince the garlic and slice the green onions.
  4. Melt the butter in a large pot or skillet over medium-low heat. Sauté the garlic and green onions in butter until they are soft for about one to two minutes.
  5. Turn off the heat. Add the drained pasta and sauce mixture to the pot. Stir well to coat the pasta making sure that the garlic and green onions are distributed throughout the pasta.
  6. Top the pasta with any reserved sliced green onions, then serve. (Top with parmesan cheese for non-vegan version. Optional.)

MY NOTES

  1. This noodle dish should not be dry or soupy but still moist. If dry, add a little bit of pasta water then mix again. If too soupy, drain your pasta better next time.
  2. I used Mykonos vegan butter. It is a very good brand. Mr Sweetie was not able to tell that it was vegan until I told him.
  3. If you want the dish to be creamier, you can add 2 more tablespoons of butter but I refuse to! Four tablespoons were more than enough that I can handle without feeling like I am clogging my arteries even with vegan butter.
  4. Do not scrimp on garlic! This is garlic noodles after all! Add as many garlic cloves as you could bear to peel and mince. The more the merrier!
  5. Oyster sauce is not vegetarian. It contains oyster extracts. Use the vegetarian version if you want to make the dish vegetarian. You can also use Hoisin sauce which is vegan. It is just a little bit sweeter than oyster sauce.
  6. As it is always my practice when cooking, I taste sauces separately first before adding to the dish. I found that 1 tablespoon of brown sugar is enough for me. Two tablespoons are too sweet but find out for yourself what your preference is by adding one tablespoon of brown sugar first on step #3. If you prefer sweeter, add more sugar.
  7. This dish can be made non-vegetarian or non-vegan. Just use regular butter and oyster sauce.
  8. If you can eat dairy or you want non-vegan, add grated parmesan cheese. I promise you, it is fabulous!

Korean braised tofu (dubu jorim)

Among the things I missed during the pandemic is being able to eat at a Korean restaurant. We had Korean food delivered to our house for dinner but it is just not the same. It will never be. I miss stuffing myself with over a dozen banchan (side dishes) placed at our table while waiting for our main dishes. By the time our orders of Korean barbecue and dolsot bibimbap arrive, I am usually already full . I did not think that I would ever say this but I miss the smokiness of the Korean restaurant. I used to say that I hate smelling like eau de bbq when having Korean food but now, I do not mind at all as long as I get to eat my favorite Korean dishes. As soon as we feel comfortable to eat out again, we are walking to our favorite neighborhood Korean restaurant. Yes, we are that blessed being surrounded by cuisines of all kinds just mere skip and hop from our house.

In the mean time, I would like to share this recipe for Korean braised tofu. Braised tofu is one of the banchan (side dishes) that is served along with other vegetable dishes. It is one of my favorites. I did not realize how easy it is to make this dish.

Being in the Bay Area, we are very fortunate that food of all types are accessible whether at eateries or grocery stores. There is a Korean market that is not far from where I live. It is so convenient to grab Korean staples such as gochugaru flakes. Gochugaru is Korean chili pepper flakes. It is essential in making Korean braised tofu. I found this article explaining the difference between gochugaru and red pepper flakes.

I made Korean braised tofu twice already using two different recipes. They were both good with same ingredients but just different measurements. The recipe that I am sharing tastes exactly like the braised tofu that I had at Korean restaurants.

This is served as a side dish but I eat it as a main dish. The tofu is braised in sweet, savory and spicy sauce. The flavors are so robust that it is flavor explosion in your mouth! And it only takes less than 10 minutes to cook!

KOREAN BRAISED TOFU

FOR THE TOFU

  • 1 package firm tofu
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil or neutral oil

FOR THE SAUCE

  • 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp gochugaru (Korean chili pepper flakes)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1-2 stalks green onions, sliced, white and green parts *Save some for garnish.
  1. Mix all of the sauce ingredients together and set aside.
  2. Squeeze tofu gently to release extra water.
  3. Cut into rectangular shape and pat dry with paper towels.
  4. Heat one tablespoon of oil in a large non-stick pan and fry over medium to medium high heat until seared on both sides (lightly golden brown) This would take about 2 – 3 minutes on each side.
  5. Spoon the sauce over the tofu pieces. Simmer for 3 – 4 minutes over medium heat. Turn the tofu over and continue to simmer for another minute.
  6. Garnish with sliced green onions (optional).
  7. Serve with a bowl of rice, as a side dish, snack or appetizer.

MY NOTES

  1. There are different kinds of tofu — silken, soft, medium, firm and extra firm. Firm tofu is the one that you would want for this recipe as it will hold its shape while still soft.
  2. You will find information on the internet regarding different substitutions for gochugaru. I would suggest to try to use gochugaru instead of other types of chili flakes. They are just not the same. Even cayenne pepper is not a good substitute because of the differences in texture and heat level.
  3. You can add more or less of the chili flakes depending on how spicy you want your dish. I find that gochugaru is not really spicy. It has a little kick but not very hot. I can eat very spicy, though, so please do not trust me! Ha! Ha!
  4. I did not use up all the sauce in this recipe as I think it is more than enough for one block of tofu. I save the leftover sauce for boiled veggies like the bokchoy that I had in the picture.
  5. Sesame seeds complete this dish but I did not have any on hand. Omitting them did not take away from the dish. I will try to remember to get a jar next time and use them when I make this dish.
  6. This dish is such a keeper and addicting if you like savory, sweet and spicy Asian dish. It can be eaten hot or cold.

Did you make KOREAN BRAISED TOFU? Please let me know by leaving a comment on the blog or on Instagram @msfoodloversfcooks. Enjoy!

Easy no-knead garlic and sea salt focaccia

Me, a baker? After successfully baking the most delicious focaccia, my baking skills have advanced from banana bread level to yeast bread level. In my book that is pretty up there which I initially thought was reserved for real talented bakers. (And I still do not consider myself one but I still cannot believe it that I.baked.a.focaccia.from.scratch.)

Before the pandemic, I did not have any interest nor think that I would be able to bake a bread with yeast. With this recipe that I found, not only was the focaccia that I baked was beyond delicious, it tasted like it was baked by a professional gourmet chef. It was so perfect that I can confidently say could rival the gourmet bakeshop down the street from my house. Totally unbelievable that I made it with my very amateur skills!

What is mind-boggling is that it was soooooo simple and so easy! Much appreciation for author’s clear easy-to-follow step by step instructions and photos. I am tempted to just provide the link and of course, the full credit to “Shockingly Easy No-Knead Focaccia” from Basically (Bon Appetit). However, voice of experience told me that the link might go bad or the recipe might no longer be available online (which happened to me before!).

I am providing the recipe in my own words with the full credit to the author I mentioned above. And so I can bake this bread over and over and over again!

EASY NO-KNEAD GARLIC AND SEA SALT FOCACCIA

5 cups (625 g) all-purpose flour

¼-oz. envelope active dry yeast (about 2¼ tsp.)

2 tsp honey

1 tbsp kosher salt

4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Olive (EVOO) + 1 tbsp EVOO + 1 tbsp EVOO (6 tbsp EVOO total plus more for hands)

About 1 tbsp unsalted butter for the pan

AFTER THE FOCACCIA IS FINISHED BAKING:

4 tbsp unsalted butter (melted)

Flaky sea salt

2–4 garlic cloves

  1. Whisk together 2 1/2 tsp or one ¼-oz. envelope active dry yeast, 2 tsp. honey, and 2½ cups lukewarm water in a medium bowl.
  2. Let sit 5 minutes. You will know that your yeast is alive if its gets foamy or creamy. If it does not, you need to dump it and start all over again as it means that your yeast is dead or your water is too hot or too cold. (Check your yeast’s expiration date.)
  3. Add 5 cups all-purpose flour and 1 tbsp kosher salt and mix with a rubber spatula until a shaggy dough forms and there are no more dry streaks.
  4. Pour 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil into a big bowl. (Make room for this bowl in your refrigerator.)
  5. Transfer dough to bowl and turn to coat in oil. Cover with a plastic wrap and chill until dough is doubled in size. At this point, it should look very bubbly. Chill at least 8 hours and up to 1 day. You can also let it rise at room temperature until doubled in size, 3–4 hours if you cannot chill overnight.
  6. Generously butter a 13×9″ baking pan (for thicker focaccia that’s perfect for sandwiches), or an 18×13″ rimmed baking sheet (for thinner and crispier focaccia.) (Buttering the pan is important to ensure that the brad will not stick.)
  7. Pour 1 tbsp EVOO into center of pan.
  8. In order to deflate the dough, while keeping the dough in the bowl, use a fork in each hand, gather up edges of dough farthest from you and lift up and over into center of bowl. Give the bowl a quarter turn and repeat process. Do this 2 more times to form it into a rough ball.
  9. Transfer dough to prepared pan. Pour any oil left in bowl over and turn dough to coat it in oil.
  10. Let the dough rise, uncovered, in a dry, warm spot until doubled in size. This would take at least 1½ hours and up to 4 hours.
  11. Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 450°. To see if the dough is ready, poke it with your finger. It should spring back slowly, leaving a small visible indentation. If it springs back quickly, the dough isn’t ready. (If at this point the dough is ready to bake but you aren’t, you can chill it up to 1 hour.) Lightly oil your hands. If using a rimmed baking sheet, gently stretch out dough to fill (you probably won’t need to do this if using a baking pan).
  12. Dimple focaccia all over with your fingers, like you’re aggressively playing the piano. (This part was so much fun!) You will be creating very deep dimples in the dough where your fingers will touch the bottom of the pan.
  13. Drizzle with remaining 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with flaky sea salt.
  14. Bake focaccia until puffed and golden brown all over, 20–30 minutes.

Did you make EASY NO-KNEAD GARLIC SEA SALT FOCACCIA? Please let me know by leaving a comment on the blog or on Instagram @msfoodloversfcooks. Enjoy!

Cornbread with green chiles

Happy first of May and Happy Cinco de Mayo! Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for “5th of May”) is a celebration of Mexico’s cultural heritage and pride. The festivities include parades, mariachi band performances, street festivals and of course — margaritas!

Mr Sweetie is Mexican-American which is why Cinco de Mayo is celebrated at our house. (Ok, I admit, it is a great excuse reason to make and drink margaritas at home! This is the one and only time each year that we ever drink hard liquor at home. He is not a drinker while I like wine and champagne, and the occasional drinks with girlfriends.)

The idea of drinking fruity margarita on a weekday seems fun and naughty whenever Cinco de Mayo falls on a weekday. However, this post is not about margaritas. It is really about corn bread with green chiles. The recipe has been adapted from the book “Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking” by Toni Tipton-Martin. It is called Spanish Corn Bread in the book. Jubilee is such a wonderful cookbook that I found at the San Francisco Public Library. The photos are mouthwatering. The book is a celebration of African-American cuisine and its history. It gained many accolades including being a winner of the coveted James Beard Award.

I made the Spanish cornbread in June 2020, just less than 3 months after California went into the first lockdown. I thought that May will be the best month to post it in celebration of Cinco de Mayo. This cornbread is so moist, so good, so delicious — the best one ever that it is a keeper. I will definitely make it over and over again! And in honor of Cinco de Mayo, I chose to post this delicious corn bread recipe.

I thought that I would also include my pretty little doll in the photos that I got during our trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in 2016, as well as the red bowl that I bought from a market in Mexico. They remind me of beautiful memories of our travels.

CORNBREAD WITH GREEN CHILES

Adapted from the book “Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking” by Toni Tipton-Martin

  • 1 1/2 c yellow cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 c cream-style corn
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 1 – 4oz can diced green chiles
  • 1/2 c minced green onions
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 c shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 4 tbps butter, cubed into pieces

TO MAKE

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Mix together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In another bowl, mix together the corn, buttermilk, chiles, cheese and egg. Gently fold in the green onions.
  4. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry mixture. Stir until combined. Do not over mix.
  5. Melt the butter in a 10-inch cast iron pan in the oven until foamy. Do not burn. Tilt the pan to coat it with the melted butter. Pour the batter into the hot skillet.
  6. Bake for 50 minutes or until golden brown.

MY NOTES

  1. Of course the original recipe is perfect but I would like to honor and respect not just copyright laws but the efforts and love that went into creating it by re-writing the recipe in my own words as much as possible. (I also do not want to plagiarize!)
  2. The changes that I made were: 1) Instead of using onions, I used green onions. 2) I also used a different title for my post from the original title in the book “Spanish Cornbread.”
  3. When I made the cornbread, I made half with chiles and half without. I only included the chiles in one half of the batter. The other half was just cornbread without the chiles. I made it this way because I knew that Mr Sweetie would not want chiles in his. I poured half of the batter without the chiles first then I mixed in the chiles with the other half then I poured that half into the skillet. It worked!
  4. I also used self-rising flour and omitted the baking soda, salt and baking powder.
  5. This cornbread is so good drizzled with honey!

Did you make CORNBREAD WITH CHILES? Please let me know by leaving a comment on the blog or on Instagram @msfoodloversfcooks. Enjoy!

Happy 1st of May and Happy Cinco de Mayo!

San francisco | postcards from boudin bakery

All I wanted for my birthday last February was to go to San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf and eat a bowl of clam chowder in sourdough bread. This clam chowder sourdough bread bowl is an iconic San Francisco food. Boudin’s sourdough bread is a “must eat” when visiting San Francisco. Boudin’s “mother dough” is touted to be about 172 years old. Boudin itself is one of San Francisco’s oldest businesses dating back to 1849.

Bay Area locals do turn their noses up on Fisherman’s Wharf for being “touristy.” Well, it is but I do not mind touristy places. Fisherman’s Wharf is breathtaking with unparalleled gorgeous views of the bay. There are many delicious seafood restaurants to choose from. This tourist destination is just plain fun for adults and kids alike.

Mr Sweetie made my birthday special by letting me have whatever I wanted for my birthday including taking me to Fisherman’s Wharf, getting me a birthday cake, a bottle of French champagne and many pretty presents.

What I did not anticipate was how packed Fisherman’s Wharf was! After parking at the garage, we crossed the street to Pier 39. It was so crowded that we were elbow to elbow with people — some of whom were not wearing a mask! We tried to visit the shops but we gave up.

I was already vaccinated by then but not Mr Sweetie. It was quite stressful to be with hundreds of people when this has been our second time being out of the house and around a big crowd in a year since March 2020.

I thought that the crowd would get thinner as we walked towards Ghirardelli Square but it was still very packed. I also wanted to visit Pier 39’s famous seal lions but they were resting away from the people that day. After catching a glimpse of the seal lions, we walked along the wharf for about 20 minutes to get to Boudin. We watched bakers shape fresh dough into fun shapes such as turtle, crab, bear, etc. before placing our order. At this point, I told Mr Sweetie that I just wanted to get the clam chowder and sourdough bread then go home. I did not feel comfortable dining at a restaurant. (Even to this day, even after being fully vaccinated, I still do not like dining out.)

It was still a beautiful day despite the anxiety of having to deal with the unexpected crowd. It was a gorgeous day in San Francisco with the flowers already blooming.

When we got home, we enjoyed our food in our pj’s. I had a crab chowder instead of clam chowder. Knowing how much I love crab, Mr Sweetie also got me a fresh crab salad sandwich. He also bought me loaves of turtle and teddy bear sourdough bread! I opened the bottle of Veuve Cliquot champagne that he got me which paired perfectly well with the seafood. I blew my birthday cake afterwards although sadly, I did not have any room in my tummy left to eat even a slice. Everything was so delicious!

It was a perfect birthday. I would like to go back again to Fisherman’s Wharf when we feel more comfortable and when it is safe to do so, hopefully when the pandemic is over. Lucky for us, Fisherman’s Wharf is just less than 30 minutes away from where we live.

Just in case you visit San Francisco, Boudin has different locations in SF but go to the one at Fisherman’s Wharf. It is the most fun location.

Hawaii shrimp food truck- inspired garlic shrimp

As inspired by our vacation in Oahu in 2019, I re-created the shrimp and rice dish that we had at one of the food trucks on Oahu’s North Shore. Shrimp trucks are popular in Hawaii — just watch Hawaii 5-0 (or not! LOL!) where Kamekono’s Shrimp Truck was a fun mainstay of the show showcasing Hawaii’s local food culture.

Please check out my North Shore Oahu Shrimp Truck post here where I posted yummy photos of our shrimp plate and food trucks in the town of Haleiwa in Oahu.

This dish is so easy to make and so delicious! Buttery and garlicky shrimp over hot rice make this the ultimate comfort food! Make it as spicy as you want.

A little note on vegan butter

I also want to mention that in order to lessen the guilt, I used vegan butter for the first time. I really could not tell the difference between dairy butter and vegan. It so happened that the vegan butter was on sale at Costco. The woman right next to me was looking intently at it as well. I asked her if she had it before and she told me that being European, she grew up on Miyoko’s Creamery brand and it is good. There you go, use vegan butter if it matters to you although this is obviously not a vegan dish. (I am going to try this on tofu next time instead of shrimp.) Oh, just to be clear, this is not a sponsored post.

Hawaii Shrimp Truck-Inspired Garlic Shrimp

To Make:

  1. Combine flour, paprika and cayenne pepper in a bowl.
  2. Drench the shrimp in the flour mixture.
  3. Heat pan over low heat. Add olive oil until hot then add butter.
  4. Add garlic to the pan oil. Be careful to not burn the garlic. Watch it while cooking for about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Turn up the heat to medium. Add the shrimp in a single layer. Cook the shrimp until it turns pink, about 2-3 minutes. Flip the shrimp and cook on the other side until slightly brown.
  6. Add salt and pepper if desired, and cook for another minute.
  7. Remove from the heat and serve over hot rice.
  8. Squeeze lemon over the shrimp.
  9. Serve with parsley (optional).

MY NOTES

  1. Shrimp truck-style Garlic Shrimp in Hawaii is traditionally served with shell on. However, I really did not want to deal with the shell while eating this at home. (Peeling off the shell while eating this dish on a gorgeous hot day in Hawaii is fun. Not so much during the chilly spring weather in at home! At least not for me.)
  2. I used very good quality frozen shrimp also because I did not want to peel and devein but it could easily be done. Just add another 10 minutes to the prep time.
  3. I also used already peeled but fresh garlic from Trader Joe’s. Easy peasy is my middle name. LOL!
  4. Wait for the garlic to brown a little before turning off the stove in order to get that nice crusty texture.
  5. I put a little bit of Italian seasoning on top of my shrimp before eating it. The heat will incorporate the seasoning. Totally optional and not like what I had in Oahu but it was delicious. Use parsley as well if you want instead of Italian seasoning or omit.

Did you make Hawaiian Shrimp Truck-Inspired Garlic Shrimp? Please let me know by leaving a comment on the blog or on Instagram @msfoodlovercooks. Enjoy!

North shore, oahu | shrimp truck

I have been thinking of the garlic shrimp plate that we had at a food truck while in Oahu during our vacation in November 2019, just months before the pandemic.

We are so glad that we got to go before the world pretty much went on lockdown and when it is no longer currently safe to travel. I thought that I would post the pictures of our trip before I post my Garlic Shrimp recipe. I just had it for lunch just now. It took me all but 10 minutes to whip up this really tasty and comforting meal!

Mr Sweetie and I went for a drive from our hotel in the Waikiki area to the town of Haleiwa (pronounced hah-lay-EE-wah is a historical surf town that’s about an hour’s drive from Waikiki). We rented a car and got to hit up some “must see” spots in the North Shore of Oahu.

Among things to do in Haleiwa is to eat at a shrimp food truck. Giovanni’s is the most popular one among foodies. Sure enough, when we got there, the line was so long and the wait was for almost about an hour. Now, even when I was at the height of hard core foodie-ness, I hardly ever wanted to wait to eat at restaurants. 20 — maybe 30 minutes tops were all we were willing to spend waiting. I always believe that there are so many delicious places in the Bay Area at almost every corner that it is unnecessary to spend precious minutes waiting for one that might possibly have been over-hyped on Yelp. (I know that very dedicated foodies will disagree with me which is totally understandable.)

I applied this principle when we were in Oahu. I told Mr Sweetie to just drive and look for food trucks after seeing how long the line was at Giovanni’s. Sure enough, there were quite a few in North Shore. We chose North Shore Shrimp Truck because it was right across from the beach and it was located at a little open air mini-park with other food trucks selling local foods like shaved ice, pineapple drinks and tacos.

Upcycling sculpture of things found on the beach

It was a breeze to order. We paid cash, sat down and our food was delivered to us in about 15 minutes. We had fun watching surfers and people coming in from the beach to grab a meal.

There were only 3 items on the menu: Garlic Shrimp, Butter Lemon Shrimp and Spicy Shrimp. These food truck shrimp dishes are traditionally served with the shell on. I ordered the Butter Lemon Shrimp while he went for Garlic Shrimp because he loves “garlic everything.” Both came with rice and a salad.

It was a filling meal. He reported that his dish was buttery, and garlicky. Mine was a nice lemony and buttery treat. This shrimp dish gets included on the list of my comfort foods. Being Filipina who grew up eating fresh seafood with rice, this is foodie heaven for me. I have been dreaming of eating this dish since then!

After eating, we continued to explore North Shore. It was a beautiful day of driving around without a care in the world exploring beaches and stopping at local attractions while looking forward to drinking mai tai when we got back to our hotel.

I hope to post more pictures of Hawaii. In the the mean time, if you ever visit Haleiwa in North Shore, please do not miss visiting the following:

  • Matsumoto Shave Ice — Sit for a spell and enjoy a shave ice, then walk around to the little outdoor mall to shop for souvenirs.
  • Macadamia Nut Farm — We stumbled upon this place by chance. I got to crack a fresh macadamia nut. We sampled their products and bought lots of madacamia treats that we brought home as souvenirs. I did not realize how delicious macadamia nuts are when they are very fresh!
  • Try a huli huli chicken at one of the stands.
  • Go to a local grocery shop where you will find local products which will make cool presents for loved ones.

Stay tuned for my Garlic Shrimp Truck- Inspired recipe on my next post!

Mango black bean salsa and pan fried garlic salmon

Happy Spring! I hope everyone is enjoying the gorgeous days of this season. While we sadly did not get to enjoy much March showers in California which officially put us in the drought category, spring has come. California poppies, daffodils and flowers of myriad colors are decorating the Bay Area landscapes.

I always associate mangoes with summertime. Philippine mangoes are known for their sweetness and juiciness, and much enjoyed during the hot summer days in the Philippines as snack, dessert or side dish. I have always been “Team Sweet Ripe Mango” but many Filipinos are “Team Green and Crunchy Mango.”

I was given mangoes by my brother in law when I visited my family few Sundays ago. Today, I thought of making salsa to complement my pan fried salmon with garlic and rice while I was working from home.

The star of the show on this post is the Mango Black Bean Salsa while the pan fried garlic salmon is taking a supporting role. The salsa is very easy to make. No cooking needed, and you can personalize it according to your taste. You will be rewarded with a variety of flavors — sweet, tangy, salty and spicy. This is summer in your mouth, y’all! And I should add — healthy!

Before I list the recipe below, I just want to say that life has been very busy lately, with lots of challenges but accompanying blessings that are bigger than the challenges. I am still cooking and baking. I also have been visiting your blogs and enjoy them tremendously. I will send those hearts your way very soon.

PAN FRIED GARLIC SALMON WITH MANGO BLACK BEAN SALSA

MANGO BLACK BEAN SALSA

  • 1 ripe mango
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, drained and washed
  • Cilantro, minced (about 1/3 c)
  • Jalapeno or chili peppers (sliced)
  • Red onions, chopped (about 1/4 c)
  • Avocado, cubed (optional)
  • Cucumber, cubed (optional)
  • A squeeze of half of a lime, or to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  • Fish sauce, (optional — omit salt if using fish sauce)
  1. HOW TO SLICE A RIPE MANGO: Stand the washed mango on the thick bottom end using one hand. Using a sharp knife with your other hand, slice from top of the mango down on one side.
  2. Repeat with the other side. You will end up with two halves, and a middle section which is the seed.
  3. Take one of the mango pieces. Make cuts resembling a chessboard but do not cut through the peel.
  4. Bend the sliced mango. The mango flesh will pop out in to squares. At this point, you can use your fingers to feel the squared segments of mango flesh off the skin, or use a small knife.
  5. Repeat with the other side of the mango, and slice the mango flesh from the seed. (This is the part where I love to take a break and eat the mango from the seed or pit, whatever it is called.)
  6. Transfer the sliced mango into a bowl.
  7. Steps 1-5 were the “hardest” part in making this salsa but it will really just take you 2 minutes to slice a rice mango.
  8. Take the rest of the ingredients you are using — black beans, cilantro, lime juice, jalapeno, avocado, red onions, cucumber and mix them all together with the mango.
  9. Season with salt or better yet, add about 2 tablespoons of fish sauce. Enjoy!

GARLIC PAN FRIED SALMON

  • 1-2 slices salmon for frying
  • 1/2 head – 1 head garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Season the salmon slices with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat EVOO on medium high heat then fry the salmon skin side down on one side for about one minute.
  3. Turn the salmon on the other side to fry. Turn down the heat to medium.
  4. Watch the middle of the salmon as it turns from transculent pink to opaque salmon color. This indicates if the salmon is already cooked. Before the fish turns completely opaque, add the garlic pieces to the pan and fry until golden brown, being careful to not burn the garlic.

TO SERVE

  1. Serve the pan fried garlic salmon with a generous side of mango salsa and steamed rice.

MY NOTES

  1. It is recommended to use ripe mangoes for the salsa. Overripe mangoes will be too mushy.
  2. The Mango Salsa Black Beans Salsa recipe is very forgiving. You can choose to make it without heat, or make it mild or super-spicy. You can choose to not include avocados and/or cucumber but the combination I provided in my recipe will provide a robust flavor profile of combined ingredients.
  3. I also like my salsa chunky but you can make the mangoes and other ingredients smaller if that is your preference.
  4. How long you cook the salmon is a matter of personal preference. We like the salmon slightly pink (raw) in the middle while others like their salmon fully-cooked. Just do not over cook the fish otherwise it will become dry.

Did you make BLACK BEAN MANGO SALSA AND GARLIC PAN FRIED SALMON? Please let me know by leaving a comment on the blog or on Instagram @msfoodloversfcooks. Enjoy!

Easy cheddar corn fritters

While others like to shop for clothes, shoes or gadgets, buying food is one of my favorite past times. Since I have been faithfully sheltering in place, grocery stores are among the very few places that I allow myself to go to during the pandemic. Actually, aside from home and work, and once a month social distancing visit to my family, I really do not go anywhere. Every week without fail, you will find me roaming around Trader Joe’s and Grocery Outlet. I go to Costco every other month for a big grocery shopping spree where I explore Costco’s aisles for almost 2 1/2 hours! Costco shopping is an all day affair for me that I have to take a day off from work just to go. I just love finding new food and brands to try.

I am always buying food and very good at never wasting it if I can help it. I always make sure that I cook and eat what I buy. I also buy food to share as presents. I always bring a big bag of treats from Trader Joe’s for my sister and nephews. I am also always on a lookout for fun food for BFF whenever we do our short but sweet get-together because she spoils me with so much as well.

As a result of these regular food hauls, our fridge is packed to the point where Mr Sweetie and I have to play Jenga with groceries just so we can close the fridge and freezer doors. A month ago, I made a commitment to stop buying frozen items such as snacks, meats, seafood, etc. until I use up almost everything that we already have. I still go to Trader Joe’s every Friday to buy breads, new items on the snacks section, wines, vegetables and fruits but just foods that we can eat within the week.

I have been doing well with this goal. After about a month, the freezer has more space and I can start re-stocking again on frozen treats. One of the last bulky stuff in my freezer that I have been wanting to use up is a bag of frozen street-style corn. I have been wanting to try to make corn fritters and the bag of corn was just the perfect ingredient for the fritters. During the afternoon lull while working from home, I finally got to make them.

Even though I often try to cook or bake a dish few times before I post the recipe on my blog, this one is super-easy. It is truly a @lazychef2021 recipe. (Forgive my shameless plug about my super-new Instagram account where I post photos of food I make. Please check it out!)

Cheddar Corn Fritters is one of those recipes that will be hard to mess up which is why I decided to post it after making it just once. I was rewarded with thick and chubby savory/sweet corn-filled pancakes. Sky’s the limit with possibilities on how to make these fritters fancier by adding different types of cheeses, herbs, spices and different toppings. I made a simple and basic version. The crust is crispy while the inside is moist. I will definitely make these cheese corn fritters again!

CHEDDAR CORN FRITTERS

  • 1 1/4 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk or heavy cream
  • 2-4 tablespoons vegetable oil for frying
  • 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese

RECOMMENDED TOPPINGS FOR SERVING

  • Sliced green onions
  • Sliced jalapenos or chili peppers
  • Sour cream
  • Cotija (Mexican cheese) or parmesan cheese
  • A squeeze of lime
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper
  1. In a large bowl, stir together the corn, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and pepper.
  2. Stir slightly beaten egg, cheddar cheese and buttermilk into the flour mixture until combined.
  3. Put about a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and place it over medium heat. (I used a heavy cast iron pan.)
  4. Scoop 1/2 cup of the batter in to the hot oil, shaping it into a round patty.
  5. Cook the fritter for about 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown and crispy.
  6. Transfer the fried fritters to a plate lined with paper towel for the oil to be absorbed.
  7. Repeat with the remainder of the batter until used up. Add more oil to the pan as needed.
  8. Serve immediately with suggested toppings above.

MY NOTES

  1. I used a bag of seasoned street-style grilled corn. Since I have not used canned corn in this recipe, I will not recommend it yet. With frozen corn kernels, they are more tender than canned corn which sometimes are harder to chew. Drain excess liquid before using in the batter. Try to get seasoned corn if you can for added flavor but I am sure that regular ones are great as well.
  2. These fritters are perfect to re-heat in an air fryer for about a couple of minutes.

Did you make CHEDDAR CORN FRITTERS? Please let me know by leaving a comment on the blog. Enjoy!

Weekly joys in pictures | May 1-9, 2021

The lockdown has given me an opportunity to indulge in things that I really enjoy such as cooking and taking food photos. These used to be just items on my “someday list” before the pandemic. I am happy that now my blog contains delicious recipes and photos of the food that I cook. I miss posting, though, about other things that bring me joy. When I first started blogging in 2013, my blog was really a journal of my everyday life with my family, friends and BFF, reviews of restaurants where Mr Sweetie and I dined, and keeper of simple joys.

I miss posting about all of the above in addition to what I cook in my kitchen. Even though I am working from home, life continues to be as busy as ever with not much time left for other hobbies that I want to pursue such as reading, scrapbooking, more photography, writing, etc. etc. (I want to do it all!) I am also lagging behind in my Monthly Gratitude posts which I have faithfully written for years. I managed to finish my “January 2021 Being Grateful” post just a couple weeks ago and we are already in May! LOL! (If you want to read it, I posted it on my old blog here.) In reviving the spirit of journaling, I am starting with these snapshots:

SIMPLE YUMMY JOYS

Food brings me lots of joy, most especially these that that were given to me by family and friends because it meant that they were thinking of me. Here are the treats that I got this month:

  • Mocha Sponge Cake — My sister gave me this Asian cake. I shared it with my team mates who really enjoyed it.
  • Empanadas and Artisan Bread — I also discovered the joys of freezing my food. (Thanks, BFF!) I used to compost everything past their expiration dates or if I knew that I could not eat them. BFF gave me artisan bread and empanadas which I froze. Finding treats in the freezer was like finding treasures. Guess what, bread freezes really well! The empanadas were yummy, too, after two minutes in the air fryer! The artisan bread loaf was so good toasted topped with Smoked Salmon Spread from Trader Joe’s.

DATE NIGHT YUMMY EATS

  • Aburaya (Oakland) — Food delivery have been blah. They are just not the same. My Japanese friend chicken from Aburaya was the bomb. Will definitely get more next time!
  • Homeroom (Oakland) — He has been surprising me with mac and cheeses from Homeroom! They are deliciously wonderful but I cannot possibly eat all of them. I ate one bowl while the garlic mac and cheese to the freezer it went!
  • Governor (Oakland) — It was British food galore! Governor would provide one meal to a family in need for every meal ordered which was why I chose to try this eatery. We had fish and chips, yorkshire pudding, chips, mashed potatoes and gravy. Too salty for our taste but it was nice to try something different and to know that another family was being fed as well.

FAMILY SUNDAY

Lunch with at my sister’s house. Had apritada cooked by my brother in law. Chicken apritada is Filipino stewed chicken in tomato sauce with potatoes. Very tasty. My BIL is a great cook. The my nephews and I made mini-donuts on my DASH donut maker. As you can see, they went crazy with the toppings — Nutella, chocolate syrup and powdered sugar! LOL!

CINCO DE MAYO

Tacos and margaritas for Cinco de Mayo. As it has been our yearly addition, Mr Sweetie made me margaritas although he did not drink any this year. I made yummy tacos.

MAY FLOWERS

We did not get April showers this year but the world seems to be exploding in May flowers! Sadly, I miss walking among the flowers in the spring. I missed stepping on crunchy leaves of different colors during the fall. I miss walking in my neighborhood and the freedom to explore anywhere I want. I miss being able to stop on a whim to take photos of things that make me smile during my walks. A year and half ago, in January 2020, I had a scary experience while walking home from work. I am thankful that I was completely unharmed. (Remaining calm and having the presence of mind were what helped me get out of the situation unscathe.) I stopped walking since then. Materials things were taken from me which were readily replaced. What I am still trying to recover is my sense of safety and security. I try to find joys whenever I can find them while still feeling safe such as visiting the farmers market. I am slowly trying to stretch my comfort zone by challenging myself to walk again instead of driving everywhere. Coupled with my experience are the atrocious attacks on Asians. Being Filipina who has lived most of my life in the US, I have never felt afraid for my life or safety while participating in daily activities of life. Now I am often in a state of hypervigilance while walking on the streets of San Francisco or being on the train. The only times I feel safe are when I am home or in my car. As much as I live in a beautiful and safe neighborhood, the threat of being hurt looms around me and follows me everywhere. Ignorance, racism and violence hurt all of us even if we think that we are immune from those issues.

While we were visiting Mr Sweetie’s parents during Mother’s Day, I saw the deep pink flowers on a long stalk across the street from their house. The stalk was tall and high bursting with beautiful fuschia flowers blooming from it. It was as if it was reaching out to the sky. I took a picture because it was a beautiful and unusual plant, but also because it reminded me to remain hopeful for better things to come.

Please stay tuned for part two of May in Pictures! Thank you for reading and stay safe.